This week, the Swedish Academy organized a conference on the threats to freedom of expression. Among the international guests were the American historian Timothy Snyder and the Finnish-Estonian writer Sofi Oksanen – and then the British writer and journalist Peter Pomerantsev.

His books have been about information wars and propaganda, often focusing on Russia. In an interview with The Culture News, he warns against placing too much emphasis on exposing disinformation and lies from non-democratic forces, instead of highlighting accurate facts in a way that makes people want to listen.

"The essence of malignant propaganda is to create identities that are violent, paranoid and aggressive. It can't be countered by just revealing that it's a lie, because it goes so much deeper than that.

"Wants to bring truth and justice together"

Since it is difficult – perhaps even undesirable – to regulate the spread of disinformation in a democracy with freedom of expression, Peter Pomerantsev believes that one should instead compete with better communication.

- You have to be better than the other side, better than all Goebbels and better than Putin's propaganda models. It's a race, and we have to win it.

Peter Pomerantsev's own contribution to this idea is The Reckoning Project, of which he is the co-founder. It is an organization of journalists and lawyers who work together to collect testimonies about war crimes committed by Russia during the war in Ukraine. The journalists publish articles and documentaries, while the lawyers build up prosecutions in order to bring those responsible to justice.

"We want to bring together truth and justice, it's like a shield against both disinformation and impunity," Pomerantsev says.